Hamburg to Aleppo and a dash of sherbet

What Am I Reading?

It has been over a month since I last updated Hail Eärendel and for once it wasn’t because I have been lazy, distracted or any other negative reason.

In fact, I was taking part in the NaNoWriMo challenge and am happy to say that I succeeded in writing my fifty thousand words before the end of November; substantially so, in fact, as I reached the target on 19th Nov.

The novel is not yet finished, however; as of today, 3rd December, I am just under half-way through it.

As a result of my NaNoAntics I did not do a great deal of reading in November so have not advanced as far as I should have liked with my two main reads. But neither have I been idle…

A Most Wanted Man
At the end of October I was reading Our Kind Of Traitor and doing my best to finish it before NaNoWriMo started. Not only did I succeed but I managed to fit in A Delicate Truth as well. I enjoyed Our Kind of Traitor although I never really got on with le Carré’s non-linear narrative. Where’s the tension when you know the character survives whatever threatening situation he is in? A Delicate Truth was more linear and so for me a more enjoyable read.

In Traitor, le Carré uses the 2009 banking crisis as the backdrop to his story. In Truth, the world of New Labour, extraordinary renditions and modern day mercenaries take centre stage. The book is every bit as bleak as Our Kind of Traitor except, perhaps, in its ending, though only slightly.

That’s them; I am now reading A Most Wanted Man, the third of the three le Carré novels that I committed myself to reading. This book is the oldest of the three, being published in 2008 but also has a very contemporary feel being concerned with Islamic terrorism at least in part if not in whole.

I have to admit, when I opened the book up I was really not taken either by the character of Issa – the Russian/Chechnyan/Islamic figure at the heart of the story – nor by Tommy Brue, a banker – but I am now eighty pages in and the plot is starting to warm up nicely. Not only in terms of Issa’s and Brue’s relationship but with a sub-plot involving a heavy smoking and hard drinking German intelligence officer named Bachmann. To be honest, he is the one who is making the story ‘sparkle’ at the moment.

T. E. Lawrence Letters
I have to admit I did not open TEL’s Letters once during November. I only did so for the first time since October this morning. A month ago I said I thought I might finish the book by Christmas. When I read it I read it pretty fast as Lawrence writes in a very readable fashion but I am definitely not going to finish the book before 2017. As of today, I am on p.150/873.

It is 1912 still and Lawrence is still engaged at Carchemish, writing from Aleppo, avoiding cholera, falling foul of malaria, affectionately addressing his twelve year-old brother Arnold as ‘ancient beast’ and ‘worm’, drinking rose leaf sherbet with snow (which sounds lovely), and witnessing gunfights between Kurds and arabs. Lawrence’s archaeological finds get a mention here and there though I don’t have the impression that they are of ultimate significance. Meanwhile, war has broken out in the Balkans…

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This entry was posted in David Hogarth, Twentieth Century Biography, Twentieth Century History, Twenty First Century Literature and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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